How long the camera stays is an open question, since the tower is slated for replacement. The equipment was paid for and installed last week by Western Alliance for Nature, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving biodiversity through wildlife conservation and education.
“This is a great way to showcase San Diego’s unique, natural treasure with people all over the world,” Filner said at a news conference. “I personally am looking forward to checking out the webcam to observe the seals.”
Harbor seals that took over the beach in the early 1990s have become an attraction to tourists and locals alike. Their presence also is the source of controversy, since beach-access advocates want the area returned to its original use as a safe swimming area for kids.
The city has installed a rope across the opening to the beach to discourage visitors from disturbing the seals, which are in the midst of their pupping season. The camera displayed several people near the seals at one point, but the beach appeared to be clear of human activity a few minutes later.
Larry and Sara Wan, the founders of the Western Alliance for Nature, said they hope the webcam promotes good practices and management.
“Wildlife faces severe human population pressures and this allows us to monitor their behavior and activities to make sure their needs in this environment are being met,” Larry Wan said.
He said the camera is equipped with night vision to give observers a rare glimpse at harbor seals giving birth, which they only do at night.
The webcam’s images are on the lower right of the mayor’s web page at sandiego.gov/mayor.
The webcam will also stream on CityTV between airings of public meetings, according to Filner. The city of San Diego’s broadcasting outlet is on Channel 24 on Cox Cable, and online at sandiego.gov.